The devastating earthquake in Haiti and the outpouring of support from the world community, including Canada, demonstrates the vital part that we can each play as volunteers and as donors to support those in need. I have been struck by the incredible stories of generosity - children emptying their piggy banks, corporations organizing relief efforts, aid workers volunteering their time.
It is this same spirit of generosity that is so important to the work we do at SickKids. In the six short months I have been here I’ve witnessed the importance of donations to Canada’s most research-intensive hospital. I’ve seen how SickKids is able to use philanthropic support as a means to understanding and treating childhood diseases. The statistics speak for themselves. Today, three-quarters of the Canadian children stricken with cancer – the second leading cause of death among children aged one to 14 – are cured. That’s a significant increase from five per cent just 40 years ago. Fifty years ago, a child diagnosed with cystic fibrosis might survive to age four. Today, the median age for survival is 35 years old.
Philanthropy is also helping provide our patients and their families with significantly improved facilities for their treatment and care. Last week we re-opened the new Hematology and Oncology Clinic that was made possible from support by the Ontario Government and private donations including a $5-million gift from Sears Canada. Later this month we will re-open the Critical Care Waiting Room, which would not have been made possible without more than $400,000 in donations. The Waiting area has been transformed and will provide families with a more hospitable and comforting environment.
Efforts are also underway to provide our researchers with the physical space and equipment they need to carry out their transformative research. A new $400 million, 750,000 square foot facility will soon rise at the corner of Bay and Elm Streets, housing our 2,000 research staff and the SickKids Learning Institute. The Research Tower is scheduled to be completed in 2013 and will consolidate personnel who are presently scattered at seven different sites across Toronto. Philanthropy will be vital to this project – planning for a $200 million special fundraising campaign is well advanced and we will launch this appeal later this spring. Stay tuned for more exciting announcements about the Research Tower Campaign.
So, as we start the New Year, let me thank all those whose support for SickKids is helping fund life-changing equipment and facilities and enabling SickKids to attract the best doctors, researchers and nurses in the world.
I wish everyone a healthy and happy 2010.